Health Care seminars

Health Care: The Place of Care Ethics in Medicine

A series of monthly interdisciplinary seminars, 2015-16

4.30pm-6.30pm, in Arts Tower Lecture Theatre 7, University of Sheffield (location)

14th October – Søren Holm (Manchester): ‘Is a Care Ethics Perspective Necessary to Achieve Proper Partiality in Health Care?’

11th November – Ann Gallagher (Surrey): ‘Developing Ethics in Care: Challenges and Opportunities For Applied Ethics’

16th December – Jenny Saul (Sheffield): ‘Care Ethics and Gender: Is There a Connection?’

20th January – Julia Moses (Sheffield): ‘T H Marshall and the Ethics of Care’

17th February – Stephanie Collins (Manchester): ‘Can Institutions Care?’

16th March – Robert Stern (Sheffield): ‘Care for the Other: Løgstrup and Care Ethics’

20th April – Andrew Thompson (Sheffield): ‘The Relational Aspects of Appearance Concern’ CANCELLED

18th May – Basil Sharrack (Sheffield): ‘The Ethics of Payment to Participants in Clinical Research’

See abstracts below

All welcome: attendance is free and registration is not required

Sponsored by the Arts and Humanties Research Council and Medical Humanities Sheffield

For queries, contact Robert Stern:


Søren Holm: ‘Is a Care Ethics Perspective Necessary to Achieve Proper Partiality in Health Care?’

It is a common intuition that Health care professionals (HCPs) are allowed to, or perhaps even ought to show some preference towards ‘their patients’. This intuition that some partiality is allowable or mandated in the Health care context stands against an equally strong intuition that HCPs and the Health care system as a whole should be impartial. In this talk I briefly explicate these intuitions and then move on to consider how partiality can best be justified. Do we need a care ethics approach to justify partiality, or are there other plausible paths to the same conclusion? I conclude that whereas a care ethics approach may be ‘the Royal Road’ to justifying proper partiality, similar conclusions can be reached through a non-care ethics based consideration of the role responsibilities of HCPs. Powerpoint of talk here

Ann Gallagher:  ‘Developing Ethics in Care: Challenges and Opportunities For Applied Ethics’

Ann will draw on her experience as Editor of Nursing Ethics and on philosophical and empirical ethics projects exploring dignity and ‘compassionate care’. She will argue that ‘slow ethics’ has a role to play in challenging the quest for a quick fix and ‘crisis’ perspectives in relation to ethics as applied to care.

Jenny Saul: ‘Care Ethics and Gender: Is There a Connection?’

Much initial excitement over the Ethics of Care was due to claims that it captured women’s ‘moral voice’, which had previously been either unheard or denigrated by psychologists, philosophers and others.  Many feminists eagerly embraced the Ethics of Care, as a part of the project of revaluing the feminine and providing an ethical theory more able to encompass women’s perspectives.  In this talk, I argue that this idea is wholly misguided.

Julia Moses: ‘T H Marshall and the Ethics of Care’

T. H. Marshall’s writing on social rights, notably his 1949 Cambridge lectures on ‘Citizenship and Social Class’, has transformed broader thinking about the role of welfare policy in modern societies. Which ideas informed Marshall’s work in this area? What, if any, was his ethics of care? And, can Marshall’s own biography enable us to glean fresh insights into the motivations behind Britain’s early welfare state? This paper situates Marshall’s sociological work on welfare within the broader intellectual landscape of early twentieth-century Britain. In doing so, it seeks to unpack the hidden assumptions behind the language of rights that stood at the core of Britain’s post-1945 welfare state.

Stephanie Collins: ‘Can Institutions Care?’

Plausibly, morally valuable care sometimes requires certain emotions and can generate duties for agents to foster those emotions in themselves. But how does this work for institutional agents, such as states, hospitals, and schools? Sometimes emotions’ moral value is entirely instrumental, in which case there is no problem: institutions have duties to have instrumental equivalents of emotions. Problems arise in cases where emotions are non-instrumentally valuable — and, moreover, are valuable in virtue of their phenomenal character. In such cases, I suggest, institutions have obligations to act to increase the probability that their members will have the relevant emotions (with the relevant phenomenal character), in virtue of and in accordance with their membership in the institution. The upshot is that there is some morally valuable care that institutions cannot have duties to perform, but that they can (and do) have duties to promote.

Robert Stern: ‘Care for the Other: Løgstrup and Care Ethics’

This paper will discuss K. E. Løgstrup’s conception of the ‘ethical demand’ and how it relates to issues in care ethics. According to Løgstrup, we are under a demand to ‘care for the other person in a way that best serves his or her interests’. This then suggests that Løgstrup’s ideas might connect to contemporary approaches to care ethics. However, the settings in which that ethics has often been used has been within institutional structures like hospitals; but Løgstrup appears to distinguish such institutions with their need for clear rules and procedures, from the ethical situation between individuals in which his demand seems to have its primary place. So does this mean Løgstrup has nothing to offer care ethics after all? I will argue that this is not the case, and that in fact it is precisely by highlighting this crucial difference between the ethical encounter between individuals and the ethical structures of institutions that his contribution is so important and insightful. No prior knowledge of Løgstrup or his ideas will be assumed in this talk.

Basil Sharrock: ‘The Ethics of Payment to Participants in Clinical Research’

Subjects, both patients and healthy volunteers, are frequently reimbursed for their participation in research. Medical ethicists consider such payments as inducement if they lead to the subject not adequately considering the risks to themselves of taking part in the research or if they withhold information about themselves so as to meet the inclusion criteria for the study.

There are differences of opinion amongst some academics and Research Ethics Committees (RECs) over whether it is ever acceptable to pay research participants in relation to the level of risk involved in research.

Where payment is proposed by researchers, RECs consider whether they  proportionate to the “burden” imposed by the research. Such burdens may often be significant without involving excessive risk e.g. number of hospital visits, tissue samples taken, lifestyle restrictions, diaries, questionnaires etc.

Guidelines have been developed by the Health Research Authority to provide general guidance on ‘payments and incentives’ that go beyond phase 1 studies and encompass the issue of payments to patients and healthy volunteers in both therapeutic and non-therapeutic research.